The Last Shark

If you squint, it’s Quint…The Last Shark, aka, L’ultimo squalo is basically Jaws minus Chief Brody and all elements intact (even if limbs are not). In his stead, an author (of all people) and a Robert Shaw-aping Vic Morrow are tasked with taking down the killer fish.

The town of Port Harbor is gearing up for a windsurfing regatta, and the denizens are treating the spectacle as if it’s hosting the Formula 1. It’s all anyone can talk about, and even radio blabbers provide traffic-and-weather-together-type updates about the big race in between songs.

When a surfer bum becomes chum, things get glum. That’s one way to put it. However, like Jaws, there’s a stonewalling elected official who wants the big race to proceed, damn the torpedoes, if you’ll excuse the mixed nautical metaphors. The horror author tries to sound the alarm, but the politico has aspirations of state governor and insists that it continue. And he’s got a plan in place to protect the beaches with extra patrols, netting, vigilance, etc.

Hence, the race is on.

From there, things don’t go too swimmingly for the bipedals as The Last Shark’s incredibly fake version of Bruce the Shark, starts making the townsfolk his waterlogged repast.

And what a shark this is. It’s been likened to a Macy’s parade float, but with it’s silly verticality resembles one of those Bozo the Clown pop-up punching bags.

Vic Morrow as Quint-alike Hamer chews the scenery like ballplayers do tobacco. It’s a dreadful performance and he vacillates between Irish brogue and what sounds like upset stomach Hungarian (and possibly Greek too, or maybe that’s just the cable-knit sweater/po-boy cap Corsican figure he cuts).

This is unquestionably a terrible movie. However, it holds up well as compared with other horror rip-offs from Italy’s boot (Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead, for example) and horror knock-offs more broad (Abby, the cheap-o Exorcist).

And word of advice: don’t dangle steak from a winch in a helicopter. Trust.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our Really Awful Movies Podcast episode of The Last Shark]

An American Werewolf in London

Two backpackers walk into a bar…wait, this isn’t the premise of a joke. It’s this twosome in An American Werewolf in London, friends Jack and David, who are cold and hungry and looking for sustenance at The Slaughtered Lamb pub.

In-group out-group dynamics send the men packing, but not before this warning from the unfriendly denizens: beware of the moors.

Rattled, the guys take off on foot, and out of the shadows emerges a giant, furry, clawed beast.

Jack is mauled. David survives, confined to a London hospital bed (hence the title of the film) and he’s none the worse for ware, save for a few scratches.

After (more than) hitting it off with a tending nurse, and ending up back at her place, he starts to feel strange symptoms. But this isn’t because of an STD. It’s the first signs he’s about to transform.

The effects come courtesy of the guru himself, Rick Baker, and boy are they spectacular. The muscles spasms, the jutting snout, the newfound taste for red meat…

It’s a toss up as to what’s the best modern werewolf horror. Obviously, you’d have to give nods to Wolfen, The Howling and Ginger Snaps, but perhaps the most spirited and best-paced is An American Werewolf in London, comedy director John Landis’ foray into the horror genre.